Some advice lasts the ages, while other advice can seem outdated very quickly. There was a time when it was good advice to get out there and go door-to-door when looking for a job. We used phrases like ‘pound the pavement’ and ‘open doors’. Now? If someone came to our office unannounced looking to meet with me about a job, well, let’s just say that wouldn’t go well for them.
On the other hand, some advice stands the test of time. In fact, one of my favorite adages predates Plato and Socrates: ‘know thyself’. I have found that knowing myself, my strengths, my weaknesses, and my inclinations helps me navigate leading people in my role at Church Community Builder and provides a framework for others to know how best to interact with me. We use a variety of tools from Myers Briggs to Strength Finders to DISC to help our associates grow in their understanding of who they are and to help our teams better understand how to work together.
This principle is not only valuable for individuals, but also for organizations. If a business doesn’t have a stable sense of itself, it can experience drift, confusion, and distraction resulting in loss of focus. But, if a business understands its story, or what we call a brand narrative, it can remain focused on its mission. The same is true for churches. Each church has a unique focus or culture that enables it to fulfill its unique calling.
Yet in church we often get distracted by what the successful church down the road is doing or by trying to be all things to all people. Your ministry isn’t exactly like every other in your neighborhood, and that’s a good thing. It’s time to embrace that difference. Find your audience, your people, your mission, your niche — and your whole church will be healthier.
4 Benefits of Knowing Thyself
#1 Remember your roots
The birth and growth of every church is the story of the voice of God and the movement of its people. What was the catalyst for your church to begin gathering? Was there an unmet need that was identified, or a specific group of people that you wanted to reach? A church that I was once connected to began with a simple God-implanted phrase ‘out of broken people’. They would build their church by reaching those that were wounded and broken, and in their case it’s not just history — it drives their culture (none of us are perfect), ministries (divorce care, recovery), and approach to the community (come as you are).
#2 Identify your values
Knowing yourself provides clarity into your values. This includes culture, but goes much further than that. A church of broken people values grace over perfection and expects that people coming through the doors may be unknowledgeable of biblical teachings or distant from the church. If you don’t know what you value, you may be investing energy and other resources into the wrong things. There are countless good things that you can spend you time on, but are you spending it on the right good things? Until you know yourself, you won’t know for sure. Every church has a mission to impact their community for Christ, but yours is unique in the details of it. Dig deeper and find what the heartbeat of your church really is.
#3 Find your Tribe
Want to know who your people are? Your people are the people whose values are in the same place as your church’s. Create a profile of that core person — what he or she believes in deeply, what he or she values, how he or she speaks. This person is your tribe, for everything from your communication to your connections ministry to the ministry programs you choose to pursue. If you consciously keep the profile of who you’re looking to reach in your mind, you’ll find you have a much easier time not just attracting people, but attracting the right people. People gathered around a shared mission and value is more than a crowd. It is tribe. And a properly motivated tribe can change the world. Unsure? Reread the book of Acts!
#4 Put things into perspective
You know the purpose and vision behind your church. You know what really matters to you, and the right people to have on board with your ministry. How does all of this line up with your ministries, staffing, and culture? Often, churches create a mission statement without fully knowing who they are. If that is you, then it is unlikely that there will be alignment between your desired identity, your mission statement, and your activities. Begin by creating alignment between your narrative and a clear, actionable mission statement. Next, evaluate everything around these core components of who you are. When you’re considering a new ministry program, does it help you accomplish what your church has set out to do? Is it in tune with what you value? If it doesn’t mesh well with who you are as a church and as a community, it’ll be much harder to sustain, and have much less impact in the long run. How about your connections process, or your discipleship program? Are they designed for that person whose profile you identified, or are they vague and unspecific? Or how about your church staff? Does your staff value what your church as a whole values?
The strongest organizations — and people — know exactly who they are and who they want to do work with or have close relationships with. The strongest churches are the same. You can’t be everything to everybody, and that actually takes a lot of pressure off! Build around your core, and your whole ministry will be strong. Oh, and next time you are looking for a job, call first.